Monday, November 10, 2008

Illustrating Dusty’s Beary Tales in Watercolor

This is a painting I did for the cover of a children’s book called Dusty’s Beary Tales published back in 1996. When illustrating a children’s book it is customary to read the manuscript first and then do the illustrations. I painted over 100 original illustrations for this whole project, and not all of them were used in the book, which has 8 chapters.

I had 9 weeks to complete all 100+ illustrations. I was given the first 3 chapters to illustrate in the first 7 weeks and the last 5 chapters to illustrate in the last 2 weeks. So I worked ‘round the clock with a nap here and there! Our kids were very little at the time so you can imagine…and we couldn’t afford a babysitter!

Each illustration had to be sketched first, and then approved by the publisher before I could begin painting, which was especially challenging with so many chapters in the last 2 weeks! As I finished each chapter’s main painting, I boxed it and shipped it individually because of the tight deadline. I grouped the smaller illustrations and shipped them in bunches. Each painting is done double (16” x 20”) the size of the finished book.

But…sketching and painting isn’t all that goes into illustrating…there’s research! And the internet was just beginning back then! So I spent a lot of daylight hours at the library looking for pictures of log cabins, furniture, foliage, pine trees, bee hives, wagons, lanterns, vintage stoves, costumes, musical instruments, toys, little forest creatures… etc!

It’s long, hard work! But fun work (after it’s over)!

My talented sister-in-law, Ruthann Winans co-authored this book. She is an amazingly creative writer and idea person who has written several books. Check her blog out on at

16” x 20” original painting
8" x 10" approx. finished book size

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